James Bennett, Sr was my 3rd great-grandfather. The Bennetts were well-to-do cattle ranchers in late 19th century San Saba County, Texas. Well, most of the Bennetts were cattle ranchers. James’s 2nd son Thomas became a prominent physician and eventual president of the Texas Medical Association. Another son, Benjamin, tragically gained fame in another way, becoming a murder victim in 1930 New Mexico. And then there was James Bennett, Jr….
When I first began to study the Bennett Boys a few years ago, I met another Bennett researcher online who told me an interesting, but unverified story about James Bennett, Jr. The family lore states that James Bennett, Jr, known as Jim Bennett, had killed a man in San Saba in the late 1880′s and escaped to Wyoming and Montana where he was involved in several bank robberies before finally being killed in a bank robbery in Glendive, Montana in the early 1900′s. A regular Butch-Cassidy-and-The-Sundance-Kid sorta guy!
All very interesting and exciting, but was this just another family legend? Where was the proof?
Well, I’ve been looking for “the proof” for some time now, but really didn’t expect to find it. 130 years tends to blur the facts, that is, if this entire story was even true….
Tonight I was researching another line from the San Saba area, the Carrolls and ran across a reference to a Carroll who had been “shot” in 1906. A Google search revealed a couple of books that outlined Texas Supreme Court rulings, and one of those rulings dealt with my Carroll murder. Pretty cool! That more detailed information allowed me to check GenealogyBank… and wow, 3 articles about my Carroll murder popped up! This is great…!
Wait a minute…I haven’t researched the Bennetts in a while…a long while, actually…let me run a quickee search on GenealogyBank, using the keywords “Bennett”, “San Saba” and “killed”….
This from the Dallas Morning News, dated 5 July 1889:
How exciting! After I finally got finished jumping up and down, screaming and, yes, dancing, I went to the Library of Congress’ site Chronically America. This site has the San Saba newspapers 1876-1891, browsable only.
Guess what I’ll be doing for the next few evening?